• Sharp Corp. (OTCPK:SHCAY) will enter the electronic-book market with a new tablet-like device it hopes will be the "iPad made in Japan." Sharp said it is already in discussions with US mobile carrier Verizon Wireless (VZ) to bring the device and its own content distribution format to the US. Sharp joins a crowded field of companies looking to tap into the popularity of Apple's (AAPL) iPad, which has largely pioneered the market for tablet-like devices. In late May, Acer unveiled its first e-reader and touchscreen tablet computer. Toshiba unveiled a touch-screen tablet computer that doubles as an e-reader. Sharp will officially unveil its new multi-function tablet device around September. The company is also promoting its next-generation format for distributing e-books and other content that it says will better handle Japanese text and more easily incorporate video and audio. The new platform will allow a single item of content to be viewed in the same way across smart phones, computers and televisions. Sharp will start the content distribution service in Japan by the end of this year.
• NTT (NTT) has had an agreement to acquire Dimension Data for $3.2 billion. The deal is the largest acquisition for NTT since it bought a 26 percent stake in India's Tata Teleservices (TCL) in 2008. NTT currently hosts data centers in 31 countries, mainly in Asia, the US and Europe, but the acquisition will open up Africa, the Middle East and Australia. The company is expected to focus on cloud computing services as fixed-line and mobile telecoms markets approach the limits of potential growth. Acquiring Dimension Data will help NTT achieve its target of doubling overseas revenues of $1.85 billion in 2007 by March 2011. Dimension Data will remain as a separate business and the management team will remain at the company. According to research firm Ovum, cultural differences between telecommunications services giant NTT and Dimension Data could be a concern for the merged firm. Ovum questioned whether NTT's network and hosting capacity, combined with DiData's system integrator capabilities, would create integrated global services in the age of cloud computing, as claimed by NTT. There were historic warning signs that must be considered in such a cross-cultural, cross-industry marriage.
• NTT Communications Corp. will open premium data centers in Vietnam and Singapore and launch a new service that enables enterprise customers to quickly establish seamless connectivity between core data centers. These are all under a major new strategy to expand business in the fast-growing Asian region. NTT Com has been enhancing its leading presence for enterprise customers in Asia by adding offices, data centers, network and cloud-based services and a Singaporean outsourcing provider. NTT Com expects to significantly upgrade its world-class ICT solutions and quality of service for enterprise customers, especially multinationals with multi-hub operations in Asia.
• KT Corp. (KT) and private equity fund Woongjin Capital have establish a fund exceeding KRW1 trillion ($830.22 million) to invest in the domestic smartphone industry. Woongjin will be responsible for managing the fund, one of the largest in South Korea. The fund will invest in various areas of the South Korean smartphone industry including hardware, software and new technology, with fundraising from domestic and international sources to be completed by September. The fund will be established in October. KT will support Woongjin as a strategic partner. It will provide advice on technology issues and push for collaboration with overseas information and communication technology company’s that can help the fund.
• Facebook Inc. released a Korean-language mobile application in an effort to target the growing number of users in South Korea. The number of Koreans opening a Facebook account has recently surged, with local media reporting that Korea-based Facebook members reaching 1.1 million. But Facebook's local publicist declined to confirm the number. Facebook and other foreign social networking sites have long struggled to find traction in South Korea because of popular local services. Cyworld, a Web portal operated by a local company, also offers blogs and personal Web pages. It has some 25 million members in a country with a population of just under 50 million.
• Hynix Semiconductor Inc. had operating profit and sales that beat analysts’ estimates as demand for personal computers and a shortage of the chips drove up prices. Second-quarter operating profit was a record 1.05 trillion won ($870 million). Revenue jumped 96 percent. The rebound in computer demand that helped Intel Corp. (INTC) and Samsung Electronics Co. (GM:SSNLF) post higher earnings will stay “robust” for the rest of the year. The industry may turn to a glut in the second half as production catches up to demand.
• Hynix Semiconductor Inc, expects third-quarter DRAM shipments to grow by a mid-single digit percent from the previous three months, though prices are seen falling slightly. Hynix officials gave the outlook during an investor conference call after the company announced its second-quarter results.
• LG Display Co. (LPL) had its second-quarter net profit boosted more than 50 percent as higher TV demand pushed up prices of its key products. Net income stood at 555 billion won ($461 million) in the April-June period, compared with 367 billion won ($304.8 million) n profit a year earlier. The bottom line was lower than the consensus estimate of 624 billion won ($518.3 million) by analysts surveyed by Yonhap Infomax. Sales boosted 35 percent on-year. The company had quarterly sales, helped by strong TV sales, which benefited from the 2010 FIFA World Cup. TV makers are key clients for LCD makers and large-size LCDs accounted for 53 percent of LG Display's second-quarter shipment. Demand for high-end products such as light-emitting diode (LED) and 3D display panels also boosted on the launch of new items. LG Display Co. will also invest 618 billion won (US$513.1 million) for the next 15 months to beef up production capacity of its LCD plant in South Korea. The investment to be made in Paju, north of Seoul, is aimed at preparing the LCD maker for demand growth in small- and medium-sized LCD panels. New product releases led by companies such as Apple which rolled out its iPad tablet PC in April, has been driving the demand for smaller flat-screen panels. LG Display is scheduled to report its second-quarter earnings later in the day.
Disclosure: No positions